Wednesday July 28 Hiked from Bakeoven Shelter to Delps Trail. Not a good campsite, but I made it work. Chicago stopped briefly but moved on. Next morning I found a much better camp a half mile away. Go figure.
Best part of the Wednesday hike was hiking with Justin, an airline pilot. He is a co-pilot for 737. He talked about career options--staying as a co-pilot of 737, moving to captain's chair of 737, or moving to co-pilot of a 777.
17.5 miles today. I need to pay attention to the miles so I can make my next Elder meeting on Monday.
Thursday July 29 Hiked from Delps Trail to a campsite I identified on my AT phone app--Guthooks. When I got to the campsite, there were two hammock campers. Oscar and John whom I camped with at Eckville Shelter. Oscar and John were okay with me joining them.
July 30 Friday Left camp at 5:45 AM, hiking okay with some rock, to hiking slow with lots of rock, to a crawl going through a boulder field. Not sure what happened--either a hiking pole slipped or a foot slipped on wet rock or I lost my balance. But I fell over backward and momentarily my right foot was wedged between two rocks. I was able to release my foot and ended upside down in the only piece of dirt for at least half a mile. No harm, no foul, no injury. This section of trail 12-13 miles was rock, rock, and more rock. Then some good hiking on a dirt road. The last two miles were a STEEP downhill with a lot of day hikers, this being Friday.
After eating, went back to Post Office to get my resupply box.
As I was leaving Delaware Water Gap I saw another hiker heading out as well. Her name is Amethyst. We walked across the bridge. Midway across the Delaware River, we entered New Jersey.
I had heard horror stories about hiking the first couple of miles. That was NOT the case. The trail was good and we covered 5 miles to a camp. Along the way a guy named Wade talked with us. Wade is a Ridge Runner for the AT in New Jersey.
I was okay with a 15 mile day since the five miles to camp reduced the miles to Unionville to 48. I have to be in Unionville or some other town with a motel so I can participate in the next Elder meeting.
The campsite at mile 1300 became pretty populated with a group of 10 or so middle school hikers with no adult in the group.
Saturday July 31 The twenty miles were darn rocky. In the afternoon I focused on one thing--putting one foot in front of the other, left, right, left, right. As long as I was taking steps, I was making progress. Sometimes I would catch a series of tall rocks and step from rock to rock. Other times I would find the smoothest line and walk there.
New Jersey requires the use of bear boxes. Remembering to get the food is my biggest concern. I've been keeping the food in the tent with me. When I empty the tent, I've got everything I have. Gotta get my food sack.
My goal for the day is High Point Shelter. This would leave only 7-8 miles to Unionville. This would be another 20 mile day.
At Sunrise Mountain was a pavilion with 4 hikers. I was asked how I was doing and I said that I was good but that my water filter had gone south on me, and water was only dribbling out. One of the young hikers said he had an extra filter. His name was Popeye (got his name when he was eating spinach from a bag). I said I could make it okay. But a few minutes later, Popeye handed me a plastic bag with a brand new Be Free Filter. WOW! The best Trail Magic Ever.
A little later it started to rain--not hard, but everything was getting wet and rocks were slick. I came to the Mashipacong shelter (say that name 3 times fast!) with 5 other hikers. I joined to make a 6-pack of hikers waiting out the storm.
One of the hikers was moving fast. He left Springer Mountain, Georgia, on May 31st. In about 62 days, he had hiked more than 1300 miles.
It stopped raining and everyone moved on. I headed to the side trail for the Rutherford Shelter. I kept going and no shelter. When I looked at the map, I thought, "Good grief, anyway!" The shelter was quite a way from the AT, so I turned around and made for the AT. My little diversion cost me 20 minutes.
It was 3:00 pm when I made it to the AT. I turned north for High Point Shelter. The going was slow--lots and lots of rocks and the rocks were slick. The distance was only 4.6 miles but it took all of three hours to do. Point of reference--at home on Beezley Hill, I can do 8 miles in less than 3 hours. I have done 6 miles in 3 hours in what I call hard hiking, but this little stretch of 4.6 miles took 3 hours.
Another 20 mile day and I was pooped. Only 8 miles to Unionville, so I was pretty pleased.
I talked with Becky and the decision was made--I was coming home. With Gary's passing, it seemed like the right thing to do.
First my resupply box at the Post Office for a section of trail I would not hike, then the general store for a Gatorade and breakfast sandwich.
From Becky, I knew that I would need to hitch a ride south 8-12 miles to find a motel for my Elder meeting. I took off on Hwy 284. In less than a mile, I re-entered New Jersey. But my thumb was out of order. I couldn't seem to get a ride. It was getting hotter and hotter, so I pulled out my umbrella. Better to walk in the shade. Finally a car pulled over. The driver's name was Kristen. She could not take me to the Days Inn, but she could take me halfway. She let me out at the Rolling Hills Motel and said it was only 4.4 miles to Days Inn. I no sooner put the pack on and turned to walk when another car stopped. Andy took me to the Quality Inn in Vernon, New Jersey.
It was noon and I was set--checked in and life was good. Very good! I needed to do laundry, but the washer was out of order. Clothes had to be washed by hand. The dryer worked, though. Oh how I looked forward to a shower. And I needed to work out the details of getting home--a ride to the Newark, NJ, airport, airline reservations from Newark to Spokane, and a motel near the Newark airport. I needed everything at the same time--shower, laundry, ride to airport, motel for Tuesday, and reservations to fly home.
Clothes washed in motel room sink and dried in laundry room. Airline reservations set for 6:15 AM departure on Wednesday. Taxi to Newark airport cost almost as much as flight to Spokane.
One thing I could not find was a motel near the airport that could get me there by 4:15 AM. A couple of motels said it's only 5 minute drive. That's 5 minutes driving; I'm walking. So my plan is to sleep at the airport. I have a sleeping pad and sleeping quilt. It just might work.